“…(No ideas / but in things) Invent! / Saxifrage is my flower that splits / the rock.”
–From “A Sort of a Song,” by William Carlos Williams
Prior to joining SoHE, I was the Curator and Director of Research at the Chipstone Foundation in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where I collaboratively curated many museum exhibitions and directed Chipstone’s Think Tank Program in support of progressive curatorial practice. I have been working in and around museums since I was thirteen years old and am very curious about the ways objects are used to convey information and tell stories.
My interdisciplinarity training in American Studies and Material Culture allows me to consider a wide range of sources as I investigate histories of children and childhood, museums, domestic interiors and the home, and American social and cultural life more broadly. I am currently working on two new projects, an article on the history of the Practice Cottage at the School of Human Ecology and a new book that will offer an affective or emotional history of the American museum, tentatively called “Museum Feelings.”
In addition to my recent book, Object Lessons: How Nineteenth-Century Americans Learned to Make Sense of the Material World (Oxford, 2018) and my coauthored book, Tangible Things: Making History Through Objects (Oxford, 2015), I am co-editor with Ivan Gaskell of the newly released thirty-essay collection, the Oxford Handbook of History and Material Culture. My work has also appeared in Common-Place, Avidly (a channel of the LA Review of Books), and the Washington Post.
PhD, American Studies, Harvard University
MA, History, Harvard University
MA, Early American Material Culture, University of Delaware and the Winterthur Museum
AB, History, Harvard University
American Studies Association
Society for the History of Children and Youth
[Op-ed] Learning at home has an unexpected history, Washington Post, September 9, 2020
[Op-ed] Let’s apply the home science approach when the pandemic ends, Cap Times, September 3, 2020
The Goonies, museum rejects, Avidly, August 6, 2020
How face masks can help us understand the world, Oxford University Press Blog, July 18, 2020
In 2019, the rich ate beautiful, dead birds, Eater, December 3, 2019